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How to Be Zen During a Heavy Workload

Whether it be midterms or a fast-approaching deadline, just take a step back, relax...

Photo credit is given to the Author 

Speaking for college students, midterms, finals, and presentations (especially for those dreaded group projects) are stressful times for us college students. The ounces of coffee consumed, the number of calories inhaled when eating at strange hours, and holding yourself locked up in your room or at the library with no sleep are all recipes for disaster!

For me, it is actually easier to lock myself away in a study room, binging on pretzels and coffee, rather than recognize what all of this stress is doing to me. Isolation does not help. Caffeine does not help. Sugary snacks and Redbull do not help. And sometimes all of this added together can make you crash. Trust me. Nothing is worse than sitting through a class at 4 PM the next day after an all-nighter and you actually may think you're drunk... yeah, not as fun as you would think. 

It is important that you recognize when the stress is becoming too much. Well, not even too much, but rather enough. I've put together some quick tips on how to de-stress during midterms, finals, and any other projects or assignments that require a lot of attention and — let's face it — may make you want to cry...

1. Get up and walk away.

Yes, I seriously mean to get up and walk away from your work. Whether that be actually getting out of your room to go grab a bite to eat or even getting up to refill your water bottle at the water fountain, getting up and taking a step back can help you refocus your ideas. See someone you know in the library? Go say hi! Haven't talked to your parents or close friends since you've locked yourself up and threw away the key? Give them a call! Sometimes a little distraction is necessary and more healthy. It is so good to get up, move around, and take a breather so you feel less confined and constrained by your work. I don't mean go for a two-mile run, but hey, if it helps? 

2. Do not forget to eat.

This really does happen. There have been many times where I have realized eight hours have passed and I haven't had a bite to eat. Eating regularly is a necessity for proper thinking. You can't get a lot done when your hunger is distracting you and you haven't had any nutritional intake. Not going to get all preacher on you, but if you leave your house/room to study, keep a granola bar or a healthy snack in your bag. Better yet, pack a brown bag before you leave. This way, you're saving money because you don't have to buy food, and you're eating. I often pack a peanut butter jelly sandwich, or quinoa, or even couscous and sauce that I heat up if I know I am going to study somewhere with a microwave. It really makes such a difference.

3. Lay off the caffeine.

It doesn't help to be wired on sugary snacks and caffeinated drinks. Ever heard of a sugar crash? Yeah, well, they're real and can hit you even harder than a bad hangover after a blackout. Some coffee is OK, but don't live off of coffee for the duration of time you are doing work. Energy drinks are also not the greatest thing to have. Consuming too much caffeine can actually lead to "caffeine intoxication." Symptoms can be dizziness, headaches, irritability, increased thirst, anxiety, restlessness... dare I go on? Who wants to have a headache when they're trying to focus? You? Definitely not me. Keep the caffeine to a minimal. If you must have coffee, opt for decaffeinated or half decaf. 

4. Get sleep.

I mean it. Operating with no sleep doesn't help you get more done. I mean, yes you may have more time to accomplish more tasks, read a little bit more, type another few pages in a study guide, get another practice test out of the way, but it doesn't mean you will be performing at your best. When you're tired, you're more prone to mistakes. Lack of sleep negatively impacts your skills needed to perform your tasks at hand to the best of your ability. It negatively affects your ability to concentrate, stay alert, solve problems, and the ability to learn and retain information. Like stepping away from your work, getting some rest will help you accomplish better results.

It is easy to overwork ourselves and forget how important our health is. Taking good care of yourself is so important and is easy to put on the back burner when you feel a lot of stress and pressure to perform at a high caliber.

When you feel yourself getting too stressed out or overwhelmed, remember these four little tips that will help you get through whatever it is you are finding so daunting. You got this!

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How to Be Zen During a Heavy Workload
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